CWS emergency appeal: Syria humanitarian crisis

February 24, 2012

Appeal #: 6827
CWS appeal goal: $100,000


The ongoing political crisis in Syria has caused tens of thousands to be caught in the crossfire between government and opposition forces. The result? Thousands of Syrians have fled their homes, choosing to escape the violence. Many have migrated to neighboring countries, and many are arriving to more stable areas of Syria.

Rough estimates indicate that large numbers of internally displaced persons are arriving into the capital of Damascus from high-conflict areas throughout the country. Specific numbers of the displaced are not available, but entire neighborhoods and villages have reportedly been deserted.

The deteriorating economic conditions led by the 11-month conflict and sanctions imposed on Syria have created high levels of unemployment and inflation. Since March 2011, the Syrian pound has depreciated against the U.S. dollar by nearly 70 percent, significantly affecting ordinary Syrians who now find it difficult to pay for food, rent and fuel. The rise in prices is driving lower-income Syrians more deeply into poverty.

In short, the losses in both income and in the value of currency; the rise of unemployment; staggering inflation; and the lack of security have created a pressing humanitarian situation among Syrians. The danger posed to Syrian children by the current unrest is compromising their well-being and rights to protection and development. The emergency is also undermining primary healthcare and jeopardizing child nutrition and health.

CWS response:

In this response, CWS is supporting long-term partner and fellow ACT Alliance member International Orthodox Christian Charities, which has a long track record in responding to humanitarian emergencies in the Middle East, particularly to the needs of the displaced, and has utilized CWS material goods such as blankets and health kits.

In fact, CWS is sending 1,815 CWS Baby Kits to IOCC, valued at $70,785, and 14,460 CWS Hygiene Kits, valued at $155,600.

An earlier shipment to IOCC has already been made this year; that shipment included 4,950 CWS School Kits, valued at $74,250.

In its financial support of this response, CWS is supporting immediate needs that include rent assistance; fuel; livelihoods; and proper food; as well as non-food items such as bedding and other household items, clothing and psycho-social assistance.

The CWS-supported response will be based throughout the Middle East region in countries where the displaced are now living.

Because of constantly changing circumstances, the number of beneficiaries is in flux. At this point, CWS can report that at least 28,000 beneficiaries will be assisted and that the number could increase to as many as 73,645 beneficiaries, given present humanitarian conditions and because some beneficiaries may receive more than one part of assistance, such as receiving food and non-food aid, for example.

Other details:

  • At least 7,000 families will receive food parcels. Food packages are based on international standards, and include rice, sugar, dried beans, bulgur wheat, lentils, salt, and tea. The package will not include any milk, so as not to interfere with the promotion of proper infant feeding including breast-feeding.
  • 7,000 families will receive health kits, some of which are CWS Health Kits.
  • 2,000 infants will receive baby kits, some of which are CWS Baby Kits.
  • 1,500 families will receive bedding sets.
  • 900 families will receive clothing parcels.
  • 700 families will receive household/cooking sets which include a fan, heater, small stove and cooking utensils.

The actual components may vary, subject to availability.

As part of the response, 120 community health workers will receive educational training in workshops, and 525 displaced persons will receive psycho-social assistance. In addition, educational support, in the form of tuition fees and support, and remedial classes, will be provided to some families needing such assistance for their children. Four-hundred children will be given tuition and support; another 400 will be provided remedial education.

  • The workshops will focus on nutrition and supporting proper infant feeding. This will raise awareness of community workers including members of the municipalities, youth groups and volunteers involved in distribution of food and non-food items, and those who interact with displaced people, on issues related to proper infant feeding, and the distribution of food and infant products.
  • Upholding and supporting breast-feeding during the Syrian crisis is a priority since sub-optimal infant and young child feeding will increase vulnerability to disease. CWS-supported work with health and community workers will increase their capacity on issues related to protecting and supporting proper infant feeding. Community health workers will be surveyed before and after the trainings to ensure improvement in their knowledge related to mother-child nutrition.
  • There will also be a livelihoods program, assisting 200 beneficiaries, and a rent subsidy program for 400 families.

Budget total:

CWS is seeking $100,000 for CWS-supported IOCC efforts. Total budget of IOCC work is $3.6 million. The breakdown of this includes $2,614,000 for direct humanitarian assistance, which includes food packages, various kits and clothing. The cost of other parts of the response includes: Health care/training awareness ($24,000); education ($80,000); shelter/livelihoods ($489,690); and operational costs ($317,000).

How to help:

Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be made online, sent to your denomination, or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.

Church World Service is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.